April 10, 2023 | Design

Turn up the volume. No really, you're not producing enough UI design concepts.

Turn up the volume. No really, you're not producing enough UI design concepts.

One of my most memorable assignments in design school was to create 100 logo sketches—for one concept. I’m serious. A grown adult told me—also a grown adult and someone in a post-baccalaureate program for graphic design with a BA in English—to think of a fictitious brand and do 100 logo sketches. OK then! 

The whole thing threw me for a loop. 

I'll scrub past the paragraph where I did 15 sketches with no problems only to fizzle out and then find enough energy for 15 more. Then I fizzle again. 

Ah yes, the creative process✨.

This exercise taught us two important things: resilience and persistence. The resilience to watch ideas get canned and the persistence to conjure up even better ones. 

Here’s where we make the connection to design and product. As product people, the well can actually never run dry. There’s always another stone to turn over. Heck, turn it over again and give it another look. We've got the time. 

Establishing a practice of resilience and persistence is how we solution. Are they the best? They might be for now—but give us 20 more tries and we could find a better one. AI didn't learn to play Super Mario Bros by tanking the level once, throwing up ASCII hands, and calling it a day. It played World 1-1 thousands of times and made it happen. 

This is one key reason why I rarely show up to a design review with only one concept. One concept feels precious, almost constricting. But three concepts? Three concepts can spark a conversation. By bringing more to the table, there’s room to edit. Room to spark better ideas. Suddenly, those three concepts turn into a starting point for much stronger ideas. Worst-case scenario? All three weren’t the best ideas—but I now know I have three more in me if I need. If I can only get feedback on one thought, I don't have a ton of data to refine from. 

It's all fun and games to set a timer for 3 minutes and brainstorm as many ideas as possible.  Why not apply that same process to more avenues of life? The next time you jot down ideas for a meal (or anything honestly), write down five more. 

They weren’t hard to think of, were they? Told ya. 

Increase the volume of your output. Make a practice of it. The worst thing that happens is you write down some real stinkers of ideas. Best case? World peace obviously—but second-best case is that you have some great ideas in there. You just need to get the stinkers out of the way.  

Do I get to make a confession now? I phoned at least 20 of those logo sketches in, but the other 80 were absolute money. 

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Connor Blacksher

Connor is a senior product designer in West Monroe’s product experience & engineering practice.

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